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Select Committee Making Mockery of Democracy

A trout and river advocacy organisation is concerned at a growing trend with Parliamentary select committees of severely restricting the time for public submissions.

“The impression could be that committees were disdainfully corrupting democracy and making a mockery of giving the public a fair hearing," said Graham Carter, president of the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers.

The Federation of Freshwater Anglers intended to give a submission to the Primary Production committee on a Marlborough resident's proposed trout farming petition, but had been told only five minutes was available.

“This is incredible,” said Graham Carter NZFFA president. “Five minutes on an issue like this shows the politicians seem to be making only a token gesture to hearing the public’s views and seem to be in a total world of disinterest. Perhaps politicians need reminding they are public servants, elected to safeguard the public interest and to attentively listen to the public".

The NZFFA vigorously oppose any proposal to introduction Commercial or Private Trout Farming anywhere in New Zealand in either freshwater or saltwater environments.

Trout farming was prohibited under the Conservation Act and Fisheries Act. In the early 1970’s salmon and trout farming were both considered, but the government decided to only allow salmon farming due to the high risks involved with trout farming.

The Primary Producers Committee requested that the NZFFA provide a written submission regarding a petition by Mr Clive Edward Barker for Parliament to review legislation on trout farming and provided a copy of his petition. Mr Barker attempted to farm salmon by ocean ranching at Pupu Springs in Golden Bay but the venture failed.

Graham Carter said an analysis of Mr Barker’s submission was difficult as it was very disjointed and had no supporting documents to back up his assumptions and statements. Because of this and the need for much clarification, five minutes was very inadequate.

The Federation is undecided as to what course of action to take as regards its submission which would need at least half an hour. "The bureaucrats organising and politicians on such select committees should have a better appreciation of the time involved, especially for voluntary organisations and individuals.

“Government seems oblivious that many submitters are working volunteers, unlikely to travel for a few minutes in front of the committee. The message that such a limited time arrangement sends is that politicians and public servants simply don't care and don’t want or value public input,” he said.


Graham Carter

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